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Friday, July 18, 2014


Retroactive is a group exhibition and urban art intervention by Joseph Manana, Thami Jali and Lalelani Mbhele in collaboration with the KZNSA Durban Centre for Photography and the Community Murals Projects Trust.

A project of the KZNSA’s Social Art 2014/15 Programme, supported by the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund it forms part of the parallel cultural programme of the 25th World Congress on Architecture, UIA2014 Durban.

Conceptualised and developed by independent arts and culture activator, Bren Brophy and CMPT Trustee Terry-Anne Stevenson the project engages with the participating artists with mentorship from Architect Tsidi Moahloli.

The project focuses on South African heritage and history as well as the socio-political and cultural landscape, this on the occasion of the anniversary of 20 years of democracy in South Africa.

The 25th World Congress on Architecture, UIA2014 Durban, will run from August 3 to 7, 2014, at the International Convention Centre Durban (ICC) bringing together architects, design and built environment professionals, pioneers in urban planning and thinking, activists, city makers, academics and researchers, students, Government officials, decision makers and thought leaders, citizens and communities from around the world - to debate and discuss alternative strategies for the design and delivery of more habitable, functional and beautiful cities.

Running alongside the exciting Scientific Programme, a dynamic and diverse Parallel Project Programme is being run to expand the scope of the Congress and further conversations around the themes and pertinent built environment issues. Showcasing local, national and international talent, and a range of City venues, these projects will be open to delegates and the general public.

In response to a call for projects by the 25th World Congress on Architecture, UIA2014 Durban, the Community Murals Projects Trust (CMPT) developed Retroactive – an urban art intervention and exhibition. CMPT is a veteran collaborative of muralists who have been producing outstanding public art around South Africa for 25 years. This initiative is in partnership with eThekwini Municipality, the KwaZulu-Natal Society of Arts (KZNSA), and the UIA 2014 Architecture Congress Cultural Programme.

The Retroactive project has painted 100 circular concrete pavement storm water drain covers around the streets of central Durban. The content of the hand-painted 62cm diameter covers are landscape ‘portraits’ that depict indigenous/traditional dwellings of significant South African nation peoples.

Retroactive will present original acrylic on board art works as well as the research charcoal, graphite and chalk pastel drawings and photographs of the street art sites commissioned from photographers based at the KZNSA Durban Centre for Photography; Dumisane Ngcobo; Emmanuel Bakuli; Paulo Menezes; Pearl Nonhlanhla; Sam Mukanya and Simphiwe Dominic Mpanza.

The pavement art works are original fine art works developed by Manana, Jali and Mbhele. The content of the images was critically researched so as to provide for the depiction of typical/archetypal ‘architectural’ renderings of indigenous dwellings. The painting of the covers acted as a kind of performance art in as much that each artist engaged with a curious public creating a platform for debate and comment as the art works progressed and the indigenous dwellings revealed themselves.

The project operates on the assumption that the artworks form a ‘retroactive’ marking of indigenous history, heritage and cultural identity whilst also marking existing inner city cultural, architectural or heritage sites, many of them colonial. This juxtaposition of indigenous dwellings and historic architecture is intended to operate subversively in as much that the artworks will echo the theme of the Architectural Congress, Architecture Otherwhere. The pavement art works sites are Margaret Mncadi Avenue (Victoria Embankment), Anton Lembede Road, in front of the Playhouse and Walnut Road.

The project is designed to engage with and reflect the UIA 2014 Congress sub-themes of resilience, ecology and values. It does this by reminding viewers of our countries architectural heritage. In addition it reflects on indigenous culture, technologies and knowledge systems, this towards a respect and understanding of the loss of traditional knowledge and values.

The imagery of indigenous dwellings refers specifically to the debate on human settlements and the evolution of cities; respect through diversity and humility and the loss of culture and local knowledge in a globalised society. It echoes the architectural congresses questioning of ‘the traditional in relation to the novel and acknowledges people and place’.

Retroactive runs in the KZNSA’s Mezzanine Gallery until August 3. For further information contact Sumayya Rawat / KZNSA Gallery Administrator on 031 277 1705 or email: